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Honors Art History

French Impressionist Icon



Mai-Sophie Meng

Monet was born in Paris on the 14th of November, 1840. When he was five years old he and his family moved to A northern France town called Le Havre. His mother died when he was only fifteen and his father was a grocer. Monet first became interested in drawing, painting and selling his art when Eugene Boudin, a successful landscape artist, inspired and taught him to paint outdoors. That is when Monet started selling his own caricatures to make money. When the time came he moved to Paris to attend the "Akademie Suisse" to study. He had to join the military in 1961 because it was obligatory at the time. He married Camille Doncieux with whom he later had two children. there were times when Monet struggled to earn enough money to support his family but as he got older he gained more recognition and fame for his art. Claude Monet died at the age of 86, on December 5th of 1926.

Life of Monet

The above picture is a great example of Monet's art style. Monet was a main founder of the impressionist artistic style. He was in fact the reason it has the name "impressionism".  This term was originally used as an insult or harsh criticism to artists such as Monet to describe their work as unfinished or rough. However, Monet and some of his fellow impressionist artists embraced the term and thought it described their work perfectly. His work depicts impressions of outdoors landscapes, often showing water or the ocean. He used strong and harsh brushstrokes to emphasize certain elements and smooth, lighter brushstrokes to blur other elements. He also liked to use color as a strong tool in his work. He used contrasting colors a lot to show the true beauty of nature. Another specific trait of his work are the horizontal and vertical brushstrokes that seem to make the landscapes more beautiful, more impressionistic.

Monet's Style

Title:  "Impression: Sunrise"

Date: 1874

Can be seen at:  Musée Marmottan Monet

Monet's artwork had many inspirations and influences. The biggest or most well-known people who influenced his art were Eugène Boudin, Katsushika Hokusai, Johan Jongkind, and Édouard Manet. Boudin met Monet in le Havre and recognized his talent in his caricatures. However, Boudin did not think caricatures were a real form of recognized art so he taught and mentored Monet to become a landscape artist. After that, Jongkind became Monet's teacher and shared with him the love of painting the sea and his en plein air method of drawing and painting outside. Hokusai's influence can be seen in Monet's paintings of water lilies and water. He collected many of Hokusai's artworks and was inspired by the floral art. The painting above showcases Monet's love of Japanese art and culture. Monet was influenced by Manet and vice versa. They taught each other aspects of their separate art styles as they were very different from each other.


Title: "Madame Monet en Costume Japonais "

Date: 1876 

Can be found at: Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Title: "Meule"

Date: 1891

Can be found at: Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Title: "Passeggiata Sulla Scogliera"

Date: 1882

Can be found at: Art Institute - Chicago

"The Houses of Parliament, Sunset"

"The Houses of Parliament, Sunset" was created with oil paint on canvas in 1903. It is now located in the National Gallery of Art Washington, DC. Despite it being part of a series of paintings of the Houses of Parliament, it is one of my favorites. The colors used to portray this beautiful sunset contrast in a very subtle manner. They are almost pastel and this makes the picture seem so "soft" and "serene". When comparing this painting with some of Monet's other artworks we can tell that this is extraordinarily calm as most of his paintings showcase bright colors with exciting details such as flowers. This painting is strongly impressionistic as it resembles the actual building only slightly and rather shows the viewer Monet's impression of this scene. It reminds me of a magical castle or scene from a disney movie which is rare in older paintings as they were mostly strongly representative of something specific and realistic.

Woman With a Parasol- Madame Monet and Her Son

This painting was created in 1875. It can be seen at the National Gallery of Art, East Building. It depicts Camille and Jean Monet, Claude's wife and son. I like this painting very much because it is a part of Monet's private life and he makes this seem very happy and calm. The flowers, clouds, and the shadows of the humans in this picture remind one of a happy, sunny spring day. The blending of certain colors and brushstrokes emphasize the flowing of the wind. This painting seems almost like a photograph because it looks so spontaneous and casual and just grabbed out of mid-day.